February 21, 2020

Héctor Casanova Illustrates Dedication to Public Art

In the historic Blue Hills neighborhood of Kansas City, the shuttered Pershing elementary school was an eyesore for residents and a target for vandals and taggers. Associate Professor of Illustration Héctor Casanova and his students recently installed brightly-colored murals on the outside of the brick building to showcase the history of the neighborhood. Now it’s a place of pride for the community.

The project, one of three Kansas City School District beautification efforts, is part of a required course for junior Illustration majors called US: Collaboration. Developed by Casanova when he started teaching at KCAI seven years ago, it exposes students to the inherently collaborative nature of Illustration, gives them experience working as a team with fellow students and clients, and demonstrates the powerful effect of public art.

“Artists make work that has an effect on the public – negative or positive. I want students to understand and embrace the power and responsibility that comes with the ability to reach thousands or millions of people. I tell my students to refine their skills so they can make compelling work that captures people’s attention,” said Casanova.

Casanova’s ongoing commitment to public art in Kansas City has led to a recent appointment to the Municipal Arts Commission (MAC). In this role, he’ll review all public art projects and work with the new airport design team to determine the type of art that will be installed throughout the airport.

“I believe that art, in general, works best when it’s available to everyone and they don’t have to go out of their way to encounter it. I’m honored to be in an art-centric city that proactively manages public art and makes it accessible to all residents,” said Casanova.

In addition to his MAC and KCAI teaching responsibilities, Casanova is a visiting artist at Northeast Middle School, located near KCAI’s first mural project at Scarritt Elementary School. Over the years, taggers have destroyed some of the murals and the middle school students are designing new ones. He hopes that by engaging middle-schoolers in this project, it will decrease tagging because they will take pride in the work they’ve created.

These days Casanova doesn’t have a lot of time for his art practice, which includes projects like the KCMO Grove Park mural. But, he says he doesn’t mind. “When I started teaching, I realized that with an army of students I can do much more that I can with my own two hands.”

That’s exactly what he’s doing: working with an army of students, artists and community members to make Kansas City a more colorful place to live.

October 25, 2022

Make a gift to the KCAI Fund

The next generation of creative professionals on this campus are bold, fearless, and dream big about how they will help shape our future. As creative writers, animators, illustrators, and filmmakers, they want to tell stories that haven’t been told. While product designers, sculptors, and ceramists take concepts and shape them into objects and reality. Every student learns to tackle complex problems and use their creativity to transform the environment around us.  KCAI is exactly where they are meant to be.  Make a gift today to invest in the future of our students and their work as leaders in the art and design community and creative industries.  Donate

October 25, 2022

Students Take to the Road

KCAI students are immersed in classroom learning and studio work but stepping away from the college to visit museums and workshops offers them unexpected hands-on experiences and historical perspectives. This fall Fiber and Product Design students took to the road to discover the art of quilting and glassblowing.  International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska In late September, 39 Fiber students, community members, and alums got an exclusive tour of the International Quilt Museum’s collection and a behind-the-scenes look at the maintenance of the quilt inventory. In the collection space, they viewed quilts made from the 1800s to the 2000s and learned about the history of quilting and major quilting artists. In the maintenance area, they observed the special vacuuming and folding techniques used for optimal quilt storage. They also got a sneak peek at temperature-controlled storage rooms, which held thousands of different quilts. One of the main goals of this museum is to maintain quality, integrity, and longevity for all the pieces.  Leon McAllister (Sophomore, Fiber) was motivated by the trip. “It was inspiring to be able to see so many pieces and to think about who made them, how long it took, and what struggles they overcame. I was read more…